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When the founders of the WSN conceived of this network, they saw the need to divide the state into manageable regions—southeastern, southern, northeastern, north central, western, and northwestern.

Each of Wisconsin’s 72 counties fits into one of the six regions, and a WSN coordinator assigned to that region works to identify and weave strands to keep the network strong, its pattern richly diverse.  Wisconsin abounds in settings and seasons that inspire diverse groups to conserve and protect the land.  Each of the state’s six regions affords such inspiration, as well as challenges of vital importance.

Faced with such a wealth of possibilities, how does the WSN network across so many square miles? How do regional coordinators network among fifteen counties?  However active, we can’t possibly be involved in—or even aware of—all that goes on in our region. To understand how the network can function, despite the size of the task, we must carry the networking idea to the next level of refinement.

County by county, the WSN hopes to engage and encourage the interest of 72 people willing to serve as integral parts of the network.  The goal?  Providing that vital link to allow better flow of ideas and to coordinate statewide efforts on conservation issues.  County by county, that general goal can be realized in many specific ways; ideally, it takes shape from the diverse interests and talents of the folks willing to serve as stewards.

Wisconsin’s landscape, as we travel across it, is beautifully diverse; the same is true of those we hope will join us.  County stewards need not meet some uniform criteria: the truth is that every extra bit of energy fed into the network helps to connect and strengthen the network.

  • One County Coordinator might commit to gathering WSN-pertinent information from his county—news of events such as meetings of environmental and conservation clubs, public programs, group banquets, fundraisers, rallies, protests, displays, workshops, training sessions, etc.  He passes this information on; many such events might be of interest beyond these immediate communities.  In terms of inviting more participation or simply in terms of encouraging or inspiring similar actions in other counties, any of that news could help nourish the network.
  • Elsewhere, another steward might track current issues in her county--issues that need public involvement both within and beyond the region.  She could provide the regional coordinator with basic details such as deadlines for public comment, names of agencies in charge and a key activist contact person for more information.  The regional coordinator would then have access to these contacts, and—as appropriate—pass that information along the network to the state coordinator; in turn, she might then send it out to other parts of the net.
  • Some stewards will serve in counties that as yet do not have active advocacy organizations.  Networking in such counties could take the form of helping the regional coordinator plan outreach activities to different groups, or of locating environmental or conservation leaders whom the coordinator might contact.  This would help build strong local organizational structures, which, in turn, would eventually nurture the growth of the network.

The point of these examples?  The WSN can use help in any number of ways through a variety of people.  Why not consider whether you’d like to be part of this statewide team?  Could you serve as your county’s steward?  What’s crucial to conservation in your county, to those specific lands and waters?  Imagine how your input could allow statewide activities to be fine-tuned; consider how your contributions could ensure that the network focuses on issues important to your local community and ecosystems.  Envision how much more effective all of our efforts could be if we all worked together to do what none of us, alone, could dream of.

So how does a network operate?  A network, created and nurtured through local participation, can be cast wide across the 72 counties of Wisconsin.  A network—comprising many strands—can draw strength from and also protect the richness of Wisconsin.  If you are interested in hearing more about how you could contribute to the Wisconsin Stewardship Network's effectiveness, please email WSN at